Tips for Buying and Selling Used Farm Equipment

832590185_9aec6ab6dbJust as with used vehicles, there are definite benefits to purchasing pre-owned agricultural and farm equipment. First and foremost, if you’re looking to add some new iron to your arsenal price is always a consideration. That being said, there are some other aspects you should definitely take into consideration when looking at used equipment at farm auctions.

Shop Around
According to Greg Peterson, Farm Journal Media’s used-equipment expert, farm auctions often have some of the highest prices on the market. Because of that, it’s important to seek out and compare prices in other arenas – consignments, dealer and online auctions for example. As Peterson points out, saving 3-5% on machinery priced at $300,000 or more can be a significant savings.

Read the Fine Print
From a buyer’s perspective, be sure to pay close attention to the descriptions offered by the seller or auction house. If anything seems amiss don’t be afraid to call the seller or auction house and see if they’re able to fill in the blanks. Also be sure to find out what guarantees or warranties may be attached to the equipment or if it’s being sold in ‘as is’ condition.

Inspect the Goods
Inspections can be the key when it comes to buying any used equipment. As construction and agriculture equipment can really take a beating – especially if it isn’t well maintained – a thorough pre-inspection by a certified farm equipment mechanic can be the difference between a great buy and a lemon. While the vast majority of live farm equipment auctions will start-up and put the item into action before beginning bidding, it is not uncommon at all for items to be sold with no guarantees as to condition and operation. Ritchie Bros. has a great checklist of what you should inspect with tractors specifically.

Learn the Language
Auctions and auctioneers have a language all their own. Do you know the difference between an absolute auction and an American auction? How about absentee bids and proxy bids? Be sure to familiarize yourself with any unfamiliar terms and check out this list of auction terms and definitions for a crash course in auction terminology.

Maintain Your Equipment
This may seem like a no-brainer, but performing regular maintenance and keeping your machinery in good mechanical and aesthetic condition can greatly affect the resale value. While individual preferences will vary from buyer to buyer, well maintained and cared for machinery will always fetch a more pleasing price for the seller once it hits the auction block.

Protect Your Investment
If you’re purchasing equipment outside of an auction setting, be sure you take steps to protect your investment – especially if you’re buying/selling with an unfamiliar second party or over long distances. In those instances, escrow services can be a great protection for both the buyer and seller to guarantee both funds and delivery of the equipment.

Be sure to check out this post for additional tips on buying and selling used machinery as well as additional information when it comes to private treaty livestock sales.



  1. […] Regardless of your chosen research method when it comes to buying and selling used agricultural equipment, the most important thing you can do is just that: research. Seasoned farmers and ranchers often have a great deal of experience in negotiation and know what to look for when it comes to wear and tear on various implements, but using the information above can help avoid sticker shock – or ending up with a costly money pit. For more helpful information, check out our how-to on buying and selling used farm equipment. […]

  2. My uncle just bought a farm and is looking online for farming equipment. I’ll have to make sure he finds a way to view the equipment in person. Thanks for the warning about the beating farming equipment can take.

  3. Thanks for the article! I thought it was interesting that you suggest taking good care of your equipment to ensure a good resale value. Having a machine that can continue to do its job is a good investment if taken care of properly. I can see the wisdom behind trying to make sure each piece of equipment gets its share of good care. I really appreciate you input. I hope to apply these tips in my own work.

  4. I really like your point on making sure to read the fine print before bidding on the piece of machinery. Like you said it’s important to make sure that everything looks right on the equipment. In fact, I think it might be a good idea to make sure that you get a list of any parts that were replaced so that you can also check their individual quality.

  5. I think buying from an auction house is a great idea. It’s a different opportunity to buy used equipment. I would agree that knowing the terminology for auctions is crucial. I need to study up on it more.

  6. When my brother was buying a trailer he didn’t do a thorough inspection of it. If he had he might have seen that there was a hole in one of the floorboards. So, I like that you said that we should do an inspection before buying.

  7. Great post! This is some great stuff to know when it comes to buying equipment from the previous owner(s). Thank you for sharing such a great article as it will benefit me in the future when I get my own equipment. I will definitely keep reading your posts from here on out, thank you!

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